Friday, March 19, 2010

Plan, donít wait, for recovery

A new Brookings Institution report merely confirms what Western states have known for months: The region's economy isn't snapping back as fast as that of the rest of the nation.

One cause, according to Brookings, is that Western states relied too heavily on real estate sales as an industry. Other areas are recovering because of export businesses and industries.

Since no single community can create an economic turnaround for Idaho, one of the slow-recovery states, or for localized economies such as the Wood River Valley, pulling together is essential.

In the valley, tools and brainpower for blueprinting a broader economic and marketing strategy are growing. The Sun Valley Development Corp. (formerly Sustain Blaine), Sun Valley Councilman Bob Youngman and a team of marketing volunteers, the various chambers of commerce, valley cities and Blaine County need to assemble their best resources and chart a course that sharply reduces the area's vulnerability to recession cycles.

Vail, Colo., is taking the challenge seriously. A proposed economic development and marketing plan costing some $24 million has been unveiled. Rounding up public support and financing comes next.

Vail isn't waiting for "good times" as a strategy for rebounding.

The Wood River Valley's future can be as bright as its celebrated past and present.

If and when Friedman Memorial Airport is relocated elsewhere in Blaine County, the old airport site's 200-plus acres could open the way for any number of new redevelopment project opportunities to bolster the area's year-round economy.

Now, when tough times are a constant reminder, is when planning for the future must begin.

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